One in eight people retain one of the characteristic symptoms of long Covid for the long term, according to a study

An important step forward to better understand the effects of Covid in the long term. Among people with Covid 19, one in eight retains one of the characteristic symptoms of long Covid for the long term, shows a large study published on Friday.

These symptoms include “abdominal pain, difficulty breathing and pain, muscle aches, ageusia or anosmia. [perte du goût ou de l’odorat], tingling, discomfort in the throat, hot or cold flushes, heaviness in the arms or legs as well as general fatigue”, lists this study published in the Lancet. “In 12.7% of patients, these symptoms can be attributed to Covid-19”, three to five months after infection, conclude the authors.

This work, carried out in the Netherlands, is, by its scope and its methodology, an important piece to better understand the risk of long Covid, that is to say the persistence of lasting symptoms after a coronavirus infection.

Specific sequelae

In the current state of knowledge, we know that there are sequelae specific to a coronavirus infection in certain patients and that these cannot be explained solely by psychosomatic disorders, as certain doctors initially put forward. But the frequency of these disorders and, even more so, the physiological mechanisms by which they occur are largely unknown.

If the Lancet study does not answer this second question, it makes it possible to better clarify the first element, firstly because it was carried out on a large number of patients: more than 4,000 people with Covid. In these patients, the Covid 19 episode was confirmed by a PCR test​ or a doctor’s diagnosis.

12% of people affected by Covid develop sequelae

Finally, and this is an important novelty, the responses of these patients were compared to those given by a group of people who did not have Covid. Because it is possible to feel one of the symptoms listed, without the Covid being the cause. In fact, almost 9% of people who have not had Covid have one of the symptoms previously described.

Among former Covid patients, the proportion rises to 21.4%. It is by subtraction that the researchers manage to conclude that just over 12% of people struck by Covid develop a sequelae specifically linked to the disease. However, this study has certain limitations, such as not having measured the frequency of other symptoms associated with long Covid, including a state of depression or mental confusion.

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